By Whitney Akinyi

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have been urged to take advantage of the already available newly improved climate-smart seed varieties to boost agricultural productivity in the region.

Dr. Munyaradzi Jonga, the Seed Production Specialist and TAAT Maize Compact Lead at African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) said during the first Rwanda National Seed Congress.

He noted that even where several crop varieties have been released and registered in recent years, countries in the region are still lagging behind in achieving seed and food security contributing to the low adoption of new seed-based technologies by farmers.

Dr. Jonga emphasized that partnerships in technology commercialization are critical for technology development, awareness, demand creation, and uptake of new agricultural technologies among smallholder African farmers.

Additionally, he underscored the significance of a policy and regulatory enabling environment for seed systems development and commercialization.

Recognizing the issue of limited commercialization of research outputs in Africa, Dr. Jonga said : “AATF is spearheading commercialization of technology and innovations emanating from research through partnerships with different organizations, including national research systems, to deliver improved seeds to smallholder farmers.”

By bridging the gap between research and commercialization, AATF has successfully produced over 35,480 metric tons of climate-smart maize seeds over the past decade. These seeds have been commercialized through initiatives such as Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), StrigAway, TELA, and TAAT Maize projects.

These efforts have reached more than 3.5 million farmers, providing them with high-quality seeds capable of withstanding climate challenges and enhancing crop productivity. The availability of such improved seeds has enabled farmers to cultivate maize on approximately 1.4 million hectares of land across Africa.

“AATF works across many areas to ensure innovations can ultimately reach farmers. These areas include regulatory approval, licensing agreements, and product commercialization. The organization has a proven track record of connecting African farmers with advanced technology that addresses their specific challenges and opportunities,” Dr. Jonga stated.

As the agricultural landscape in SSA faces ongoing challenges, stakeholders emphasize the urgent need for collective efforts and partnerships to ensure that the vast potential for enhanced crop productivity through high-quality seeds is fully realized.

With continued collaboration and investment in technology, experts believe that Africa’s agricultural sector can thrive, benefiting both farmers and the continent’s food and nutrition security.